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When Buildings Quit Being Built or ‘Accidental Architecture’


Additional thanks and praise to Lisa Santoro who finally provided us with a phrase we’d been hunting for after learning last month that the Shangri-La Hotel here in Chicago had been halted while the building was still finishing construction (Santiago Calatrava‘s Chicago Spire doesn’t count because it’s still just a big empty hole). We’re going with her term from here on out: “accidental architecture,” which describes buildings which were planned, started, but wound up greatly altered once the money ran out. For recent examples, think spots like Frank Gehry‘s Beekman Tower or Norman Foster‘s mess at the Harmon Hotel in Las Vegas. For examples from the last big economic collapse, not only does Santoro provide us with the term, but also takes a quick look around New York for buildings in that city that were cut short during the Great Depression, like the Metropolitan Life North Building and the finished-decades-later International Magazine Building.

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